Dessouki in tears after emotional victory at Canary Wharf
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
Fares Dessouki was in tears after knocking out No.4 seed Marwan Elshorbagy in the first round at Canary Wharf.
The world No.21 was overcome with emotion after gaining his first PSA victory since early January in front of a packed crowd at the East Wintergarden.
He spent a long time on the floor before composing himself for his post-match interview.
This all-Egyptian clash was always going to be full of fireworks but it ended up being a bitterly-contested match with both players engaged in access issues.
It was a highly combative and frequently controversial contest that lasted 81 minutes, with some phenomenal, high-paced, attacking squash often interrupted by debates over decisions.
It added spice to the occasion as the players tested the new PSA trial of a single referee plus a video review official.
In the end, it all came down to who kept their cool better in the final game. Elshorbagy, watched by his brother, world number one Mohamed, led 7-4 in the fifth and seemed certain to book his place in the quarter-finals.
However, Dessouki refused to buckle and won seven of the final eight points as his opponent clearly lost concentration.
Dessouki said: “I’m really happy to be back and to have my game back again. I’m really enjoying the court here and my nicks were going well.
“It was a tough match. I’ve been struggling for the past few months, losing in the first rounds of my last events, and I think it’s my first win of the year (since the first round in the Tournament of Champions). It was a very tough match mentally.
“We were both a bit nervous. I was nervous in the first game, and then he got nervous in the second, but it was high quality squash and a high quality match.
“Marwan is a very good player. He is very smart on court. I had to be focused and play at a high pace. He is top ten, playing great squash and causing trouble for the top guys, too.”
Top seed Omar Mosaad had to fight off jetlag and a very determined opponent in Chris Simpson to reach the quarter-finals of the Canary Wharf Squash Classic.
Mosaad arrived in London from Chicago two days ago after reaching the semi-finals of the Windy City Open and Simpson, the 28-year-old world No.22 from Harrogate, was trying to catch him cold.
Simpson worked hard to contain Mosaad’s phernomenal pace and was ahead all the way through the first game. He reached game ball at 10-8 but the 6ft 4in Egyptian finished strongly to steal the game 13-11.
Mosaad dominated the second to win it 11-5 but he fell off the pace in the third game as Simpson took control. He built a 7-3 lead and although Mosaad fought back to level at 8-8 and 9-9, it was Simpson who took the last two points.
The tall Egyptian found his length again in the fourth game and earned a round of applause after sportingly playing a let when Simpson’s ball was wrongly called down.
Mosaad advanced from 6-3 to 9-4 and although Simpson produced some determined resistance, Mosaad delivered those precious closing points to book a quarter-final place against Daryl Selby.
Mosaad said: “Of course I’m very happy to win. I came here from Chicago just two days ago and I am feeling a little tired, so I am happy to come through.
“Chris played very well today, especially in the first and third games. He is a hard player. I need to get through as easy as I can to save energy from Chicago and I tried hard to push so I’m really pleased to win and reach the quarter-finals for the second time.”
Simpson said: “To be honest, I’ve been feeling good today like I have been feeling good for most of my PSA matches for the last six months. I feel I’m actually getting closer, without actually winning. It’s because players like Omar are classy players, and they have that little extra in their game. And I’m trying to add that little extra in my game…
“It was a very clean game. That ball at the end, I thought it was 100% up, and he thought it was 100% down, but still he gave a let. That’s really a great sporting gesture, showing the classy player he is, especially as it was at a crucial time of the match.
“I haven’t played at Canary Warf for a few years, and I must say I love the intimate atmosphere, and I was really touched to have the crowd supporting me, although I’m not from London. I really appreciated it.”
His quarter-final opponent, Selby, survived a bloody nose inflicted (accidentally) in the very first rally against rising star Declan James.
After a lengthy break to stop the blood flowing, the players returned to court and in their second point they engaged in a huge rally that showed how comfortable James was looking on the glass court.
He won the opening game 11-9 after three fast, flat kills stayed low on the floor and he unleashed a superb crosscourt volley nick on game ball.
Selby got into his stride and powered through the second game 11-3, and then fought back from 5-7 down in the third to edge it 11-9. The 33-year-old continued to play at a high pace in the fourth and took it 11-4.
The highlight for Selby was a reflex shot from between his legs (right) which sent the ball into the front right nick.
His opponent, 11 years his junior, can be pleased with his first outing on the glass court at Canary Wharf since a junior clinic several years ago.
Borja Golan overcame wild card Ben Coleman in straight games, winning 11-4, 12-10, 11-2 in 44 minutes. But he was at pains to point out that it was anything but easy against a young Englishman with four more tournament wins this season.
Golan is a great pressure player, and he appeared to break Coleman’s spirit with a strong recovery in the second game when he trailed 7-4 and was game ball down at 10-9.
Coleman may regret asking for a review of a let decision, which was upheld, and the time that elapsed possibly caused the ball to cool down.
If that was the case, it worked in Golan’s favour as he drew level with a tight boast that Coleman was unable to reach.
Golan powered through the third and reached match ball at 10-1 before Coleman claimed a consolation point.
Golan now meets a fired-up Fares Dessouki in the quarter-finals, and knows he will have to play exceptionally well to advance beyond that stage for a first time in five attempts.
PSA M70 Canary Wharf Squash Classic, East Wintergarden, London.
(7) Daryl Selby (Eng) beat (Q) Declan James (Eng) 8-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-4 (61 mins)
Fares Dessouki (Egy) beat (4) Marwan Elshorbagy (Egy) 4-11, 11-5m 11-7, 9-11, 11-8 (81 mins)
(1) Omar Mosaad (Egy) beat Chris Simpson (Eng) 13-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7 (72 mins)
(8) Borja Golan (Spain) Ben Coleman (Eng) 11-4, 12-10, 11-2 (44 mins)
FIRST ROUND DRAW (Bottom Half) Tuesday March 8:
(3) Mathieu Castagnet (France) v (Q) Joe Lee (England)
(5) James Willstrop (England) v Paul Coll (NZ)
(6) Cameron Pilley (Australia) v (Q) Mohamed Reda (Egypt)
(2) Simon Rosner (Germany) v (Q) Charles Sharpes (England)
Pictures by PATRICK LAUSON (www.patricklausonphotography.co.uk)